Current meets classic: 7 modern takes on legendary Superstars

Luke Harper / Bruiser Brody

JBL comparing Luke Harper to the great Bruiser Brody was high praise from the tough Texan, whose snug ring work was clearly also inspired by the renegade brawler who waged hardcore wars from Puerto Rico to Japan in the 1980s. But what was it about Brody that JBL saw in Harper?

There are the obvious qualities, of course — feral beards, towering size (6-foot-5 for Harper, 6-foot-8 for Brody), overall unpleasant dispositions — but plenty of big men have aped Bruiser’s signature style. Harper, though, possesses a rare intangible that few but Brody had: menace. When the hillbilly goliath is in the ring, people in the audience are acutely aware that the partition separating the crowd from the Superstars won’t keep them safe from Harper. It’s the same unpredictable quality that drew tens of thousands out to the arena every time Brody went at it with Abdullah the Butcher or Kamala.

Their main difference? Brody’s smarts inspired his persona of the “Intelligent Monster.” It remains to be seen if there’s a brain underneath Harper’s zombie exterior, but for now, he’s enough of a monster for that not to matter. — RYAN MURPHY